The island of Lundy lies 12 miles off the Devon coast and measures about three miles by ¾ mile at its widest. It is a detached part of the county of Devon and has never had any degree of autonomy or separate administrative status other than the right of a landowner to defend ones land! Notes compiled by Tony Langham, published in the Lundy Field Society Newsletter No. 20, Jan. 1990 and publicised by André Coutanche, reveal that the island, having passed through a succession of owners was acquired in 1925 by Martin Coles Harman who apparently entertained a belief that the territory was ‘a self-governing dominion of the British Empire’! Accordingly he designed and flew several flags. The first of these
was white with a blue border and a large capital ‘L’ in red placed centrally, for Lundy. This flag, flown on special island occasions whilst quite colourful was somewhat lacking in imagination! Following this a rather delightful flag
bearing a puffin is reported, white, with an outer blue and inner red border and a standing puffin bird placed centrally, facing the fly or in heraldic terminology “contorné! Whilst breeding numbers of the much loved bird have nowadays greatly declined, given that the name “Lundy” is believed to derive from the Norse “lundi” meaning puffin and “ey” meaning “island” in both old English and Norse, this appears to have been an ideal design for the territory’s flag. The depiction of the flag is from Tony Langham’s own notes.
Regrettably the Puffin flag was replaced in 1954 with a very dull design that again featured a vague “L” shape in white against a blue section, the inverse of the white “L”.
The island has since been acquired by the National Trust and it is understood that the original red, blue and white “L” flag is raised there now but a second puffin themed flag
is still apparently associated with the island, flown by a supply vessel, the M.S. Oldenburg. In essence, as described by André Coutanche, the design is effectively a shipping house flag (albeit for a fleet consisting of a single vessel!) and was introduced in about June 2000.
Whilst, sadly, the seemingly ideal puffin flag has now been confined to history, it is arguably a far better symbol to raise over the island primarily because, as mentioned, it reflects the likely origin of the island’s name. Additionally, the design would allude to the general conservation that operates on the island; the puffin is an extremely popular species and any such design sold as a souvenir item would likely attract a large following (funds from sales could presumably be ploughed back into the island’s upkeep); the flag would be unique, no such puffin flag is flown by any other UK territory and far more distinctive than an insipid “L”!. The following suggested design, based on the above sketch, is presented accordingly Useful Links